There are many excellent things to order at Catch & Release, the current installation of chef Jason Neroni’s culinary work, in Marina del Rey. Neroni, who is about to open, or rather reopen, the Venice mainstay Rose Café, is cooking Maine-inspired seafood dishes as well as dishes that he’s been cooking for years, in New York, Portland, Ore., or up the street in Venice. His salmon tartare has been a signature dish for about a decade, a synthesis of raw fish, pine nuts and pickled mustard seeds, sometimes given an emulsification with a quail egg — kind of like a quick marine carbonara. You fork this up on grilled bread because of course you do. It’s a simple dish, an easy dish to make. And it’s deceptively meaty, the way toro is at sushi bars, with the egg — if you use one — making the dish seem more like beef tartare than, say, poke. But it’s the mustard seeds that make this dish, steeped in balsamic vinegar and simple syrup, then folded into the fish. They pop like caviar. Since the recipe makes more than you’ll need, imagine what you can do with them, after your own plates are cleared, the dish is in your repertoire. A cocktail, maybe Thanksgiving dinner rolls. Although more of Neroni’s tartare wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
Pickled mustard seeds
Bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil, then remove from heat and pour the mustard seeds over the vinegar. Cover and set aside overnight. The next day, stir the simple syrup in with the seeds. If the liquid isn’t completely absorbed, strain the seeds before using. The pickled seeds should have a caviar-like texture. This makes more pickled mustard seeds than is required for the remainder of the recipe; the seeds will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 2 weeks.
In a bowl, combine the salmon with the scallions, lemon juice, pine nuts, pickled mustard seeds, olive oil, smoked paprika, 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste, and several grinds of pepper. Mix well and set aside for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with parsley leaves and serve with the charred bread on the side.